Fewer babies are dying from SIDS, risk still high among minorities

Posted at 5:53 PM, May 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-16 05:13:35-04

The number of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome cases has declined over the last 23 years but there are still major racial gaps. 

The number of SIDS cases are still higher among American Indians, Alaska Natives, and African Americans, according to a new report.

“Why there's still disparities between racial groups again is something that's not very well understood. There may be some difference in metabolism, something in there that's different across different ethnic groups, but nobody really understands that very well,” Associate Chair of Pediatrics with the University of Kansas Health System, Dr. Steve Lauer said.

Dr. Lauer says socioeconomic status could be a possible factor, but as of right now, everything is still uncertain as to why this disparity is and even the cause of SIDS.

“There's just going to have to be a whole lot more studies in trying to understand these socioeconomic and ethnic differences that do occur,” Dr. Lauer said. “But a lot of the problem is that while there are a lot of theories and thought of why SIDS occurs, there's not really clear evidence as to what's going on in most of those cases.”

Pete Potts, who's been with SIDS Resources for the past five years, says the loss of a baby is a silent issue that many people experience and wants to raise more awareness about it.

“In the Kansas City Area, I probably get referred to anywhere to 30 to 40 every year,” Potts said. “So in five years, that's probably 200 families. So it happens far more often than people care to think about.”

That was the story for young Ava Lockett.

“Ava was just like the sweetest baby girl, she just smiled a lot,” Ava’s mom, Asia Lockett said. “You could stroke her ego by saying, you're so beautiful and she would smile. In a lot of pictures, you would see her smiling and that was all genuine.”

A healthy baby girl, at just three months old, Ava died from SIDS in January 2016.

“She just looked like an angel, like a porcelain doll, that she was just there and I still have that haunt of my husband calling me and screaming,” she said. "None of us could understand and nobody can ever wrap their head around why do babies die.”

Lockett says she hopes more can be done to raise awareness about the seriousness of SIDS.

“It should be something more that you bring up, safe sleeping, or different things you can do,” she said.

Lockett says she and her family began Ava’s Army, to honor Ava Moon and help families in need.

“And you do everything in Ava’s name so her name can still shine,” she said.

To reduce the risk of SIDS it’s recommended babies sleep on their backs, on a firm mattress, alone. Doctors also urge parents not to smoke around their infants.